Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin.Spice.Latte. Those three words send us into a frenzy every fall. The pumpkin. The spice. The latte. Ahhhh.

(Side note from Whitney – before we get back to pumpkin spice latte heaven, I have a confession to make: I really don’t know what a latte is. I throw the word around and confess my love for the drink, but I haven’t a clue what I’m talking about. So, in order to write this post, I had to look up the definition. According to the dictionary, a latte is “a type of coffee made with espresso and hot steamed milk.” Ok, easy enough.)

Now, back to the important stuff. Starbucks has made the pumpkin spice latte famous, and even though the beverage has become “the company’s most popular seasonal beverage of all time”, there has been a lot of scrutiny over its ingredient list lately. So if you want to skip buying your lattes (and all the fake junk in them) this year, we’ve gathered a few DIY versions for you to try. Even though two of the three recipes don’t truly fit the definition of a latte, that’s fine by us. As long as they taste like fall, any “latte” is welcome in our mugs.

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1. “Better Than Starbucks” Pumpkin Spice Latte. Best part about this recipe: you probably have all the ingredients at home already. So what are you waiting for?! Get latte-ing!

2. Crock Pot Pumpkin Spiced Latte. I’m not sure making a pumpkin spice latte can get any easier than this.

3. Katie’s Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte. This recipe comes courtesy of my dearest Katie. If you don’t have vanilla Shakeology, just use whatever vanilla protein powder you have.

- 1 cup almond milk

- 1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology (or whatever vanilla protein powder is your favorite)

- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

- 1 tsp cinnamon

Blend all ingredients. Add 5 ice cubes and blend again.

For some vegan omega-3’s and extra protein, add some chia seeds before you blend. And I always like to add a half frozen banana to mine. This treat is yummy enough to enjoy any time of day – and healthy enough that it doesn’t count as dessert!

Anyone have a pumpkin spice latte recipe they’d like to share?

With love,

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Sweet Summertime + “Fall”ing in Love

Hi, everyone! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on here – and I miss you all!

I’m so excited for the next couple of weeks – I have a  little fun planned for True Whit for the month of September. But before we get to that, here’s a quick recap on how summer has gone in my small corner of the world:

The summer has been an exciting one for those of us living in Northeast Ohio (or as we say “NEO”). To name a few things..

- The Republican National Committee has named Cleveland as the site for the 2016 Republican National Convention. This is HUGE for NEO – this not only means national attention (finally!!) for our wonderful city, but it also means big-time revenue for local hotels and restaurants. And speaking of increased revenue for our area vendors…

- Lebron James is coming home! I always forget that not everyone was so shaken and upset by how he left years ago – so for a (very) short recap, check out my blog post about it. When Lebron made that huge spectacle of leaving the Cavs, most people in NEO were really mad. Not that he was leaving – he can do whatever he wants – but just HOW he was leaving. Cleveland didn’t deserve that, and we definitely didn’t need that. We are fighting hard to show the country that YES – Cleveland is a desirable place to live! YES – there are TONS to do and see! And YES – there is plenty to be proud of in NEO. Making such a public scene was narcissistic and hurtful. I vowed I would never get over it – and I won’t. I lost a lot of respect for Lebron, my fellow Akron native. But now, he’s coming home – and I couldn’t be happier. No, I have not forgotten all about “The Decision”, and yes, I will always dislike that Lebron, but that was four years ago.  A lot can change in four years, and it appears Lebron has. His announcement on si.com was so heart-felt and honest. I seriously teared up while reading it. He hit the nail right on the head:

In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.

Yes – everything is earned. Even forgiveness. We all make mistakes – even the Cavs fans and owners – and we all deserve a second chance. So, welcome home, Lebron! Let’s get Cleveland that NBA Title!

- In more recent Cavs news, we also got Kevin Love! Lots of talk about Cleveland being a title contender, and I couldn’t be more excited. Ok, actually, I am more excited about…

- The Browns! Any football fan knows the Browns have had more than our share of downs over the years – and unfortunately I’m not talking about first downs. The Browns haven’t exactly been the powerhouse team we have all dreamed about for many, many years, but that’s ok. I love them just the same. But this year, Brian Hoyer is back and healthy, and we had an amazing draft – which included drafting Heisman-winner Johnny Manziel. I’m still unsure about him, but if he is going to grow up and be our team’s leader, I’m all for it. But for now, I’m Team Hoyer. However, it doesn’t matter to me who ends up leading the Browns –  I just hope we have a winning season! Browns fans deserve it.

- And the most exciting news of all – J turned 6 months old! The half-year mark is both a very exciting and very sad one for me. I love watching him grow and learn new things, but each milestone is a reminder that he’s going to grow up and leave me someday. I know, I know – I’m getting a little ahead of myself. But I can’t help it. He’s my little miracle, and I want him to stay with me forever and ever. I know you’re rolling your eyes – and that’s fine. I would probably roll my eyes at me too.

Summer comes to an “official” end this Labor Day weekend. As much as I love summer, I always get excited for the season coming full-force at us: fall. The colors, the weather, the clothes, the PUMPKIN – there is just so much about fall that makes me smile. So to celebrate my favorite season, I’m going to kick off my “30 Days of “Fall”ing in Love” each day of September. I’m so excited to share 30 of my favorite fall decorating tips, recipes and fall-centric things I love, but what I’m REALLY excited about is my guest blogger! My younger sister, Kendall, will be posting along with me. She’s so super smart, funny and wonderful – so I know she’ll have some great things to share.

See you all, September 1st!

Frozen Grapes

It’s Tuesday! And not just any Tuesday: it’s the Tuesday after my first full week back at work. I somehow survived being away from my angel for 5 straight days. One week down…

I’ve been taking things one day at a time, and so far it’s been working out pretty well. Now that I don’t get to spend everyday at home, I appreciate the time I do get to be home more than ever. And since summer is here (yay!), we have been taking advantage of our evenings and weekends by spending as much time as we can outside. We are having so much fun, and our sweet baby l-o-v-e-s being outside. It’s wonderful!

However…. there is something about this warmer weather that makes me VERY aware of the baby weight I’m still holding onto. It’s probably the tank tops, shorts and bathing suits I’m going to have to put on at some point…oy. Losing weight is hard, and it definitely starts with nutrition. For me, snacking is definitely my Achilles heel when it comes to eating, so I have been looking for satisfying and healthy snacks to include in my day. I saw a recipe for frozen grapes that I wanted to try, and the next day I got a coupon for free grapes at Earthfare. Serendipity! Don’t you love it when that happens? :)

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These are so refreshing and healthy – plus, they are SO easy to make! All you need is some grapes, some yogurt (hardly any at all) and your “toppings”. Put the toppings in separate bowls, set aside. Stick a toothpick in a grape, dip it a little further than halfway down into the yogurt and twirl around a little. You just want to make sure the grape is coated well with the yogurt. Dip the grape into one of the toppings, and place on a freezer safe dish. Repeat until you’ve made the desired amount of grapes. Stick in the freezer for at least an hour and a half. It’s that easy! And at only 52 calories for 10 grapes, you can’t go wrong!

I used vanilla yogurt and chia seeds and coconut as my toppings. Mix it up and try different yogurt flavors and toppings! You can really make them with whatever you have. Enjoy – and stay cool!

 

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Summer Reading List

This week has been a rough one. After 15 wonderful weeks with my little man, I had to go back to work. There were lots of tears, but I made it through. Now as I sit and enjoy a cup of coffee on this beautiful Saturday morning, I find myself thinking about the new “normal” in our house. It’s exciting but stressful to think about how different things will be now that J is here. As much as I’m looking forward to our first summer together as a family, I know I’ll need some “me” time. And one of my favorite ways to get away is through a good book. Read on for the books I plan to read this summer!

1. Country Music Broke My Brain by Gerry House.

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This is sort of cheating, since I’m almost done with this book. But I need to get a little help wherever I can – so this counts! :) This is a non-fiction book, so up next is a fiction…and hopefully a book I enjoy more.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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3. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.

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Love these guys.

4. The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding.

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This is the second book in the Bridget Jones’s Diary series. The first one was great – can’t wait to read the second one.

5. Super Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

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6. About a Boy by Nick Hornby.

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I read Hornby’s A Long Way Down and loved it. I heard a movie is being made for that book, so I thought I’d read another of Hornby’s. And I’m pretty sure there’s a movie about this one too…

7. Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.

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Do you see a pattern here? This is their newest book. I’m very much looking forward to reading this. Some of the book’s content was already on their podcast, and it’s great.

8. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.

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I got this at a garage sale a few weeks ago for $0.50. Score.

9. Monkey Mind by Daniel B. Smith.

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A memoir about a man with severe anxiety. I heard it was actually pretty funny.

10. Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell

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What’s on your summer reading list?

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Weekend Recap

Today is June 1….WHAT?! I can’t believe 2014 is almost half over.

We spent the last day of May at the 2014 Blondes vs. Brunettes flag football game, a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association. This was the second year Akron hosted the event, and my first year playing in the game. Last year, I cheered on Katie. It looked like so much fun, I decided to play this year.

And it was a great time! Unfortunately, the Brunettes’ winning streak was ended this year: the Blondes won 18-14 on a touchdown in the last minute of the game. But I still had a good time (and 2 interceptions!).

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Me and Katie – co-caption of Team Brunette

After the game, I did as little activity as possible. Holy sore muscles! I’m still feeling it today, which reminds me how badly I need to get back into shape!

As happy as I am that we raised over $8,000 (!!!) towards the end of Alzheimer’s, the highlight of my day was getting this gift from Katie:

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And inside the envelope was…

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HECK YES I WILL BE!

I’m honored that she asked me and so excited to help her plan her wedding! Check out the amazing gift she got me:

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Unreal. She’s so good at this stuff – I always tell her she should do it for a living. The basket is in the theme of her wedding colors (mint and pink) and the destination – HAWAII!

I’m over the moon happy that Katie has found the love of her life. She certainly deserves to be with someone as wonderful as she is! I’m so blessed that I get to be a part of the beginning of their new life together. Cheers to Fall 2015 and the soon-to-be Mr. & Mrs.! <3

Since Ryan is working, today has been a Mommy/Baby day. We did a little shopping with my mom and nephew, then headed to a birthday party for the son of one of my high school besties, Katielynn. Her son is an absolute doll – and 100% boy! He’s hilarious to be around, if you can catch him! He’s way to busy to chat with his mom’s friends. :)

The baby is napping, I have some chili simmering and a glass of wine is calling my name. Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!

 

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Friday Favorites – Wedding Pictures

In about an hour, I will be leaving to drop off my baby boy at the sitter’s house for our “practice” day. I set this up so he would get used to being at the sitter’s instead of with me all day…but now that the day is here, I’m pretty sure this practice day is more for me than for him. Tear.

So to distract myself, I looked up something that always makes me happy: wedding pictures. I’ve really got weddings on the brain right now: We went to my cousin-in-law’s wedding this past weekend, one of my favorite people in the whole world is getting married in Chicago at the end of June, and my dearest friend Katie just got engaged last week!! Wedding excitement all around!

With all the weddings going on for my loved ones – and all others out there – I wanted  to post my favorite wedding pictures. These are from Pinterest (of course) and include couple shots as well as group ones. Because weddings just aren’t about two people coming together; it’s about two lives coming together – and all the lovely, wonderful, crazy folks you hold dear.

I love the bride’s smile in this one – so happy! And candid photos are truly my favorite.

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The toasts are often one of the highlights of the reception for the bride and groom. Be sure your photographer gets an action shot or two! Do you recognize the bridge and groom in this pic? :)

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This is hilarious! I wish we would have thought to do this with our groomsmen.

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Beautiful. Again, love those candids.

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I didn’t have a dog when I got married, but if I did, this would be a requirement!

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How precious is this? The emotion on the dad’s face pulls at my heartstrings.

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The smiles. The sparklers. Magical.

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You must take a fun pictures with your bridesmaids at least once during the day. You MUST!

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However, no  matter what you do, please don’t involve firearms in your wedding pictures. Don’t. Just don’t.

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I mean, really? Nothing says love like rifles (that’s what those are, right?).

Happy wedding season, friends!

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National Hamburger Day

Happy National Hamburger Day! When it comes to burgers, I am a super fan. So it’s good luck that I live in Akron, home of the National Hamburger Festival and Swensons, the restaurant with the best burgers in Ohio (I would argue it’s actually The Rail, but Swesons is a local legend, so I’ll let it go).

In honor of the day celebrating one of my favorite foods, here are 10 ways I love to “fancy up” my hamburger.

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1. Classic. No need to add anything crazy. Just lettuce, tomato and onion will do.

2. Italian. I got this idea from my mom. Add some basil and oregano to the burger patty. Top with fresh sliced mozzarella, a few baby spinach leaves and some marinara sauce. Bravo!

3. BBQ. There isn’t much that I enjoy more than the combination of sharp cheddar cheese and sweet BBQ sauce. Add crispy fried onions as well and you’ve got yourself a little piece of burger heaven.

4. Mexican. Top the burger with sliced avocado, salsa and queso cheese. If you like crunch, you can also add some tortilla chips to the burger. This is my husband’s favorite thing to do!

5. Breakfast-y. Add an egg, a few pieces of bacon and some avocado slices to your burger. For me, the runnier the egg yolk the better.

6. Fries on the side. Way back when, on a family visit to Pittsburgh, I tried a sandwich with the fries in the sandwich, instead of on the side. There was cool, creamy coleslaw on top as well. Oh man, it was divine. Take a hint from Primanti Bros. Restaurant and pile the fries and coleslaw on a burger. Just don’t become a Steelers fan in the process.

7. Buffalo. Mix some Frank’s Red Hot sauce with blue cheese dressing and put a generous amount on the burger. Add lettuce and crumbled blue cheese and enjoy!

8. Spicy. I was OBSESSED with jalapeno when I was pregnant. Like, I had to have them on everything. I really enjoy them on burgers chopped up and mixed with cream cheese. Spread a generous amount on the bun, add some bacon and prepare to swoon.

9. Mediterranean. What could possibly be as good as a burger topped with hummus, sprouts, feta cheese and sliced cucumbers? Well, if your taste is like mine, not much.

10. Chili cheese. Add a scoop (or two) of chili to your burger and top with shredded cheddar cheese. With some diced red onions on top, it’s perfect!

 

How do you like your hamburger? 

 

Hope everyone has a great National Hamburger Day!

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